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MINING AND WATER RESOURCES AT THE BASIN LEVEL: AN OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE SHARED VALUE

Por: Fernando Rodríguez Rossi, gerente y Consultor Líder de RDZ Consulting y Jorge Chávez Blancas, gerente general de EnvPhys.

Abstract

Water is undoubtedly the most important environmental element of mining in the relationship with neighboring communities and the general public. Water, being a scarce, shared resource, and its access a right, is the cause of social conflicts, controversies, and even management politicization in some cases. On the other hand, it is an asset in itself and a value that can generate multiple opportunities for collective benefits to all users in a basin. 

The mining sector is evolving towards a culture of comprehensive social and environmental responsibility, which seeks to contribute to sustainable development, one in which water resources are fundamental. The implementation of new technologies seeks to minimize the use of this resource, especially in areas of scarcity (with sea water, rainwater capture, recirculation and recycling, use of semi-dry or dry tailings, to mention a few cases), leaving a clear example that the water resource is a determining aspect in the decision analysis of a project.

In addition, the mining industry needs to demonstrate this commitment in a quantifiable and comparable manner against internationally applicable standards and best practices.

In this article we will review the main aspects related to water management in mining operations and projects, and will present the main international standards and best practices. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of establishing a water management approach in mining, sharing the challenges we face, the successes and lessons learned from those companies that see this resource as an asset that goes beyond the perimeter fence of their property, addressing its risks and taking advantage of shared opportunities.


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